Search Engines: Lost or found?

A study found that Google, MSN, Yahoo!, and Ask Jeeves search terms from 75 different languages and determined that there were over 11.5 billion web pages in the publicly indexable Web.

And that’s being modest: a probe by Yahoo! found it alone indexed 19.2billion pages. Combined estimates by Boutell and Netcraft suggest the actual figure is closer to 30billion!

All in all, this means that if you want your freelance services to be found on the World Wide Web, then standing out from the crowd is a must.

So, how do search engines go about determining relevancy on the billions of web pages when you run a search query? They follow a set of rules, known as an algorithm. Exactly how a particular search engine's algorithm works is a closely-kept trade secret.

However, all major search engines follow the general rules: Location and Frequency.

Location : Search engines will check to see if the search keywords appear near the top of a web page. They assume that any page relevant to the topic will mention those words right from the beginning.

Frequency : Keywords will be analysed by the search engines. Those with a higher frequency are often deemed more relevant than other web pages.

Improve your site visibility in the search results by following my tips:

Pick Your Target Keywords Carefully
How do you think people will search for your web page? The words you imagine them typing into the search box are your target keywords.

Position Your Keywords Carefully
Make sure your target keywords appear in the crucial locations on your web pages. Use them as titles, or section headings.

Create Relevant Content
Changing your page titles is not necessarily going to help your page do well for your target keywords if the page has nothing to do with the topic.

Build Inbound Links
Improve your site popularity by getting incoming links from web pages that are related to the topics you want to be found for, but think quality not quantity.

Beyond Search Engines
Since the advent of Web 2.0 applications, people are finding sites through feeds, blogs, and podcasts. These alternative forms can be more effective draws than search engines.

Now your site’s visibility is at optimum, you should consider creative ways to increase the volume of traffic it receives. One way is to harness social networking websites.

How this is done is surprisingly straightforward. Simply build a profile for yourself, brand or product on sites like Facebook, Ning or Twitter. The sites have excellent self-publishing tools as well as RSS feeds, allowing you quick and accessible content to the masses, including the search engine bots.

Building relationships with other well-regarded members is another great strategy for promoting your own material. A very good way of increasing your ‘linkbait’ and ‘crosslinking’ to your own content and profile pages.

And finally, don't give up! Building up these relationships and creating a well-regarded destination on these sites takes time and effort. But the long-term effects of these efforts on your SEO will be both meaningful and very hard for your competitors to overtake.

Overall, the most effective marketing strategy is to combine search marketing with other online and offline media. You can learn more about this subject and make use of the many tools and resources to make your site found with some online reading : good luck!

Jim Callender, Digital Freelance of the Year (2006), and founder of Callender Creates , a Brighton-based web design and development agency .

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